Odim reflects on time with Chargers and NFL

The worst words in the world to hear for an aspiring NFL player aren't necessarily, "You're cut." Usually the reality of the situation dawns on the player long before they ever meet with the head coach one last time. "When somebody tells you to '...

The worst words in the world to hear for an aspiring NFL player aren't necessarily, "You're cut."

Usually the reality of the situation dawns on the player long before they ever meet with the head coach one last time.

"When somebody tells you to 'grab your playbook and head upstairs,' everyone knows what that means," former Minnesota Duluth running back Isaac Odim said.

Odim was waived by the San Diego Chargers on the final day of cuts on Sept. 3 as NFL teams were required to trim their active rosters to 53 players. UMD's all-time leading rusher immediately returned to his hometown of Rochester, Minn., but he was in Duluth this past weekend as the Bulldogs honored their 2010 senior class.

Inevitably, a lot of the questions Odim was asked were about the NFL.


"I spent a lot of time filling people in," Odim said. "It was great being back. It was fun to watch the game (on Saturday), and it was nice to see a lot of people I hadn't seen in awhile."

Odim graduated from UMD with a 3.87 grade-point average in mechanical engineering and has already been accepted into graduate school for the fall of 2012 at Duke University in Durham, N.C., where he plans on studying biomedical engineering.

Odim hasn't given up on his NFL dream just yet.

Unlike most teams, pass-happy San Diego carried only three running backs on the active roster going into the season opener, but after running back Mike Tolbert suffered a knee injury in the Chargers' 24-17 victory over the Vikings, San Diego signed running back Curtis Brinkley to the practice squad. Brinkley and Odim were the last backs the Chargers cut.

Odim rushed four times for six yards in the Chargers' preseason opener but never carried the ball again, although he continued to play on special teams and received positive feedback.

"The preseason games were really my chance to prove myself, so to not get much playing time was disappointing, but at the same time you realize it's a business," Odim said. "Things could have ended up differently if I would have ended up with another team, one that carried four backs, but you just have to make due with what you can. There's still a chance I could end up back with the Chargers."

The thing in Odim's favor over another free agent is that he knows the Chargers' playbook. In the meantime, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Odim has to stay in shape and be ready to go.

"If I hear from somebody, it would likely be to sign me," Odim said. "It would all happen pretty quickly, just like it did the last time. For the most part, I just have to wait for something to fall in place, with the right team needing to fill the right spot. A lot of it depends on injuries."


Odim said if he doesn't get a call from a team his football career is likely over.

"Either way I'm excited to take the next step in my life," Odim said. "It was still a great experience. I didn't have high expectation going in but learned a lot. I feel I am a lot better prepared for being on an NFL team now, but even if don't get that call, I appreciate the experience for what it was. That first preseason game, playing before 55,000 fans on national TV and everything, is definitely something I will remember."

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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